We were roaming the Super Chevy show in Memphis when we spotted this '70 Nova drag car. We were immediately drawn to this period-perfect two-lane terror. "Now this is American muscle," we thought. When we met owners Richard and Cindy Vitiritti, they informed us this was indeed the real deal, not a replica. Rich piloted this nasty Nova from late 1969 through 1973 in the Super Stock class of the now-defunct American Hot Rod Association (AHRA).
During this time, Al Poyer was the track manager at U.S. 30 Dragstrip located in Northwest Indiana. Chicago residents and local Indy residents would make regular visits to the track to watch legendary drivers like Don "The Shoe" Schumacher and Chris "The Greek" Karamesines run nitromethane-belching Funny Cars. Something needed to be done to entertain the crowd between rounds, and this is where the Performance Posse was born.
The Performance Posse was a contracted group of racers that consisted of four Camaros and two Novas, one of these being Rich Vitiritti's "Nova on Sunday." The Performance Posse ran in the Super Stock class in the AHRA, and for all intents and purposes these vehicles had to run all-stock suspension minus slapper bars, and had to run 11 seconds or faster to be competitive. The Performance Posse's regular gig started out on Wednesday at the track, but it became so popular that they started running on Sundays as well. From there, these guys and gals found themselves in front of screaming and cheering crowds throughout the entire Midwest.
When Rich built his Nova in late 1969, the car's body came right out of a crate from Fisher, and the front clip was also ordered from GM. This Nova never actually went down the production line or received a VIN code. At the time of its construction, all the "cool" (cliche?) Nova names were taken. Names like "Nova Cain" and "Super Nova," etc., were gone, and it was Cindy who actually came up with the name "Nova On Sunday" (based on a popular movie of the time, Never On Sunday).
Time marched on, and eventually Rich and Cindy moved on to other project cars, and the Nova was eventually sold. Regret over selling the Nova set in several years later, and in the late 1980s Rich and Cindy started wondering what happened to it. One question led to another, and for the next decade and a half the search was on.
When the Nova was finally located, it was a shadow of its former self, but the Vitirittis had her back to form in just 14 months. Starting with the engine, the .060-over 427 block was brought back to life and built to its former glory. That meant cast-iron heads, stock crankshaft, rods, pistons, lifters, and timing chain. Spinning inside is an L88-spec cam from Crane.
Sitting atop the 427 is a Weiand tunnel ram intake with two Holley (Model # 4224) 660-cfm carbs. Rounding out the Rat is a Moroso seven-quart oil pan, Cal Custom valve covers, Mallory ignition, and Hooker 2 1/8-inch headers.
The 427's current displacement is 440 cubes, and sitting behind it is a Muncie M-21 pushing power to the GM 12-bolt with 4.30 gears (the Nova ran 5.13s back in the day). Horsepower is estimated to be 850 hp at 7,800 rpm, while the torque is an estimated 925 ft-lb at 7,200 rpm. Best e.t. for the car was a 9.955 at 153 mph in Oswego, Illinois, back in 1972.
Once the engine was done-with the help of Army Engines in Evergreen, Illinois-Rich, and the guys at J&J Auto, painted the Nova white and gold using Sherwin Williams Lacquer Sherlac paint. The lace paint job on the side is not a decal-real lace was spread out on the side panels and the gold was shot over the top, just as it was done in 1969. The lettering is also painted on just like back in the day.
You may notice it reads Liane Fiberglass on the front quarters. In the car's heyday, the front fenders, hood, trunk lid, and roll pans were fiberglass. Today the front fenders are steel, but everything else remains as it was. Rich remembers always having to repaint the fiberglass on account of flexing and cracking. The rest of the vehicle, like the interior, is pure no-nonsense race car.
Can you dig it?